Charah Solutions, a provider of environmental and maintenance services to the power generation industry, announced that it will close the B.C. Cobb Generating Facility’s Ash Ponds previously owned by Consumers Energy and repurpose them as natural wetlands.

As part of this agreement, Charah Solutions, through its subsidiary Muskegon Environmental Redevelopment Group, LLC, will take ownership of the ash ponds during the closure process at Consumers Energy’s former B.C. Cobb Generating Facility site in Muskegon, Michigan. The coal combustion residuals (CCR) materials will be excavated and beneficially reused as necessary fill material in Consumers Energy’s licensed J.C. Weadock landfill in Essexville, Michigan, located at the former J.C. Weadock Generating Station site. The coal-fired power plants, along with the J.R. Whiting Plant in Luna Pier, Michigan, were retired in April 2016. Retiring the combined seven generating units is part of Consumers Energy’s focus on developing more renewable forms of electric generation and its goal of being net carbon neutral by 2040.

As a sustainability leader in utility services for over 30 years, Charah Solutions is dedicated to preserving natural resources in an environmentally conscious manner through projects like this with Consumers Energy. Sustainability is a Charah Solutions core value, and the company focuses its business on developing innovative solutions to complex environmental issues for the betterment of the planet, the communities in which it operates and its customers.

According to Scott Sewell, Charah Solutions President and CEO, “Our Environmental Liability Transfer services represent an innovative solution designed to meet the evolving and increasingly complex needs of our utility partners. Many customers like Consumers Energy are now experiencing an increased need to retire and decommission older, un-utilized, or less economically viable generating assets while maximizing the value of the assets and improving the environment. By offering one-stop services, Charah Solutions can effectively manage the environmental aspects and safely close and enhance the site for the benefit of the community, all while substantially lowering the cost for the utility.”

As part of the Environmental Liability Transfer Services, Charah Solutions reviews each site’s particular closure challenges followed by a turnkey proposal that includes a closure plan and a repurposing plan for the property. Upon completion of this specific major remediation and reclamation project, the B.C. Cobb Bottom Ash Ponds will be returned to natural wetland areas.

“We are pleased to work with Charah Solutions, a proven leader in environmental and maintenance services to the utility industry, to safely beneficially reuse the material and return the ponds to natural wetland areas,” said Dennis Dobbs, Consumers Energy Vice President of Enterprise Project Management, Environmental & Services. “This innovative project reduces the environmental risk and costs for Consumers Energy and its customers while protecting and enhancing the environment.”

Charah Solutions’ work at the B.C. Cobb site comes after another company’s successful demolition of the plant powerhouse and related structures during a similar environmental liability transfer project that took place over the last two years.

“This project is a great example of Consumers Energy’s ongoing focus on our Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet and Prosperity and leaving it better than we found it,” Dobbs said.

Equipment mobilization and construction for the B.C. Cobb ponds is expected to start in April 2020 and is permitted within Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders. Onsite dewatering, excavation, and transportation will begin in Q3 2020 through the end of 2021. State approval of the final pond closure is targeted as soon as early 2022, in advance of the Federal CCR Rule compliance deadline which requires pond closure by March 2023.